Ilulissat Icefjord Centre – Kangiata Illorsua
Walk over the top of and explore inside the new Ilulissat Icefjord Centre – Kangiata Illorsua.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ilulissat Icefjord is the most well-known of all of Greenland’s tourist attractions. Thousands of tourists travel to Ilulissat each year to see the enormous icebergs that carve off one of the world’s fastest glaciers and then become stuck fast on an underwater moraine at the entrance to Disko Bay.
You can’t imagine how large these magnificent ice sculptures are – it is something that must be experienced first-hand to be truly appreciated.
Development of the Centre
As a designated UNESCO site and the most popular destination in Greenland, it made sense to build a visitor centre that could inform guests about the historical, cultural, and scientific importance of the Icefjord. This was initiated in 2015 and the Danish architectural firm, Dorte Mandrup, won the competition for its design.
Watch the video for images from Ilulissat and a brief explanation of the building’s design.
Visiting the Centre
Kangiata Illorsua opened its doors for the first time in July 2021. It is located at the start of the boardwalk out to the Ilulissat Icefjord and is designed as a “gateway” between the town and nature. Visitors can elect to walk past it, through it, or over the top of it on their way out to see the icebergs along the hiking trails.
There are marvelous views no matter which way you choose to go (even on an overcast winter’s day).
Inside the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre – the permanent exhibition
When you enter the visitor’s centre itself, you arrive in a large “mud room” where you remove your shoes and any outer clothing you don’t want to carry with you. Don’t worry. Everyone is very honest in Greenland, so your shoes and jacket will still be there waiting for you when you return. This is also where the toilets are located.
Once you pass through the small shop/cafe and reception, you enter the main exhibition space. The permanent exhibition – “The Story of Ice” – was designed by JAC Studios and is a unique combination of “iceberg” display modules combined with extremely large format books in place of information panels.
Each of these books focuses on a particular aspect of either the natural or cultural landscape of the Ilulissat area and is quite comprehensive in the information it contains. All the information is presented in Greenlandic, Danish and English and you can happily spend quite some time reading through them.
Another key feature of the main exhibition is the Ice Core display that divides the room in half. Several ice cores spanning from about 124,000BC through to today tell the story of culture and climate change via layers of bubbles and particles trapped within the specimens. This story has been interpreted by scientists in an interactive display that steps visitors through the different periods.
The last component of “The Story of Ice” is actually what visitor centre staff encourage you to start with. A short audio-visual presentation that shows the journey from snowflake through to iceberg.
Kangiata Illorsua also incorporates art installations, with the following in place for its opening.
“Eleven Movements of the Cryoscape” by Louise Foo consists of a series of individual speakers broadcasting sounds generated by the movement and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. These sounds are almost real-time and are generated at 11 different research stations around the country by GLSIN seismic sensors and PROMICE weather stations.
This soundscape is accompanied by 3 photomicrographs that form the “Inside the Greenlandic Ice Sheet” installation by Anna Domnick. These extremely close up views of ice cores were taken at different epochs in the history of the Ice Sheet.
In addition to all this, there is also a series of audio narratives (again in Greenlandic, Danish and English) where locals talk about different aspects of daily life in Ilulissat.
You can also listen to these online at: https://isfjordscentret.gl/en/podcast-en/
Visit the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre
We highly recommend visiting the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre – Kangiata Illorsua on your trip to Ilulissat.
It is a wonderful way to learn more about the Icefjord and the natural and cultural heritage of the Ilulissat region while enjoying fantastic views, stunning architecture, and great coffee and cake in the small cafe.
You can find more information at the Centre’s website at: https://isfjordscentret.gl/en/ilulissat-icefjord-centre/